From The Deck Of Prospector 12 July 2015 0000z

From The Deck Of Prospector 12 July 2015 0000z


Grinding is what an athlete does when they don’t have their best stuff. 

A baseball pitcher who is working to get outs on a day when he isn’t in

top form.  A golfer working to post a low score when she her swing is

off just a little.  A sailor trying to get the most out of his yacht when

sailing conditions aren’t ideal.

All day long we have been grinding.  The weather has been miserable. 

Cold, wet and gray.  The seas have been lumpy, and coming from all

directions.  The wind is too strong to put up our bigger sails and go on

the attack.  We have to be conservative and cautious at a time when

we would like to be aggressive. Ever crew member has commented

about how lucky we have been to have only had one day of these

conditions so far.

We started out this morning in a triple reefed main and a J4.  We were

still shaking off the beating we took last night when we got caught

trying to be too aggressive in the wrong conditions.  Early on it we

contented ourselves with shaking out one reef at a time to add more

power to the sail plan as the wind fell from 30 plus knots in to the high

20s.  By mid afternoon we had shaken out all three reefs. 

Despite the weather the crew was in their usual high spirits.  We were

moving fast in the strong winds and gaining ground on the fleet.  Our

license to surf had been reinstated and everyone took turns on the

longboard, reaching momentary boat speeds in excess of 20 knots as

they hooked a wave.  Dr. Dave, ably assisted by Henry on main trim,

was man of the match with several prolonged rides over 20 knots. 

Jeannine, you better get some mainsail trimming lessons from Henry,

sailing the Siwicki family Sabre 38, Ava, is never going to be the same

now that Lawn Dart Dave has become addicted to surfing.

In line with the forecast the wind has continued to drop and is now at

20-22 knots.  As the wind velocity dropped the velocity of the debate

over what to do next increased.  As the debate continued through

dinner, night came upon us.  It became pitch black.  Our darkest night

yet.  Effectively rendering us blind.  We have a full time radar watch on

tonight, Tery and Larry splitting the chores, for both squalls and traffic

as we approach the busy English Channel shipping lanes.

Underpowered, our speed has slowed to 10-11 knots and Prospector is

lumbering in the sloppy sea.  We need to add more sail area, but are

holding off because of our blindness.  We will lose more if we get hit by

another squall and go out of control than we will gain by making the

change.  We are cheered by every puff to 25 knots and bemoan every

lull to 20 knots.  In four hours the sun will begin to rise.  As the sky

brightens and our blindness goes away we will put up more sail

comfortable that when we do we are not dialing up the risk-o-meter.

The Lawn Dart Dave reference probably requires a bit of explanation. 

We have developed our own language out hear at sea over the last 10

days.  It is a poor cousin to DialEck, created by Dennis Eckersley, the

Hall of Fame pitcher who is now a TV commentator. Quinn, our head

linguist, has developed names for everything.  We have shared some of

his sail names with you.  Quinn has promised to put together a

Prospector glossary of term so we can save it for posterity and share it

with our friends.

A Lawn Dart is a certain type of surfing in which Prospector’s prod digs

in to the wave in front of the one she is surfing.  It looks just like a lawn

dart arcing back to the ground.  At first it is kind of terrifying.  You have

a 32 thousand pound, 60 foot yacht pointing straight down the face of

one wave in to the back of the wave in front of her.  Prospector is

pitched at roughly a 45 degree down angle, picking up speed seemingly

headed for certain disaster.  Think of the poster for the movie The

Perfect Storm and you will get the picture.  But because Prospector is

such a gem, the disaster never occurs.  As the prod digs in to the wave

in front, with sea water flying everywhere her bow gently lifts and she

hurtles forward on the energy provided by the wave behind her.  Once

you get over the initial visual shock, it is massive fun.  During his epic

surfing session today, Dr. Dave was regularly throwing lawn darts. 

Hence his new nickname.  Jeannine, you might need to retire Sparky!